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India’s literacy rate lowest among the largest economies

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By Ramon Collado

As of 2015, the literacy rate in India is 72.1 per cent, which entails that over 300 million Indians do not have the ability to read and write. Interestingly, nations that compete with India in trade; services; and industry boast high levels of literacy among their populations—South Africa, for instance, accounts with a literacy rate of 94 per cent; Singapore 96.8 per cent and Taiwan 98.5 per cent. More importantly, China, India’s greatest competitor—India and China are the largest economies in Asia; only trailing Japan—accounts with a 96.4 per cent literacy rate.

With a population of over 1.2 billion, India, the 7th largest economy on the planet, may not be able to maintain a symmetrical pace towards economic development vis-à-vis its rival economies, due to its poor education expenditure; hence, India’s status as an economic powerhouse can turn into an ephemeral, economic boom. If India fails to increase its education expenditure; its economy will fall behind its competitors and slump.

The annual GDP (gross domestic product) of India is 1.8 trillion; however, only 3.9 per cent of it goes to the education system. Japan, a nation that has achieved economic development invests 9.6 per cent of its 4.9 trillion GDP. More specifically, when one compares India to Brazil—a proportional comparison as Brazil and India are similar economies; Brazil surpasses India’s investment with a 6.3 per cent education expenditure of its 1.8 trillion GDP.

India scored 37.8 out of 100—100 represents the best and 0 the worst—on 2015 Universitas 21 ranking of countries which are the best at providing higher education for their populations. India had the lowest score among the 10 largest economies on the planet—United States, China, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, India, Brazil, Italy, and Canada. It also scored lower than most of its economic competitors: South Africa (45), Indonesia (38.8), Malaysia (55.4), Mexico (41.7) Singapore (80.3), Taiwan (63.6), and South Korea (60.5).

Emerging economies like Kenya, South Africa, Malaysia, and Nigeria refer to human capital flight (brain drain) as a serious problem, India is not the exception. Human capital flight is caused by a country’s political instability, low education expenditure, low salaries, lack of job opportunities and other factors. Brain drain prevents nations from benefiting from its skilled professionals as they opt for more attractive career opportunities abroad—30 million Indians working for the developed countries are highly skilled. More notable, skilled professionals that work abroad may wind up working for the competitor which can affect the development of the economy of their country of origin—for instance, an Indian, skilled professional that moves to China for a better salary.

India must not ignore the pitfalls of its education system; therefore, it must increase its education expenditure. At this pivotal point for emerging economies—Brazil, India— seeking for economic development, skilled professionals make the difference due to the innovative contributions they can bring into a developing nation. Therefore, welcoming programs for skilled professionals that have left the country can mitigate the brain drain issue in India. Also, job opportunities; grants; attractive salaries; robust investments in higher education and research-oriented programs dedicated to increase the literacy rate, can contribute to the development of the education system simultaneously motivating skilled professionals to remain in the country.

India will not achieve economic development with a poorly educated population; on the contrary, as India’s competitors propel their education systems, and India’s education expenditure remains stagnant, its economic development will decrease while the economies of countries that are prioritizing education become more robust. India must increase its education expenditure in order to secure an elite-class of human capital, thus, steadily advancing towards economic development.

Collado is a graduate candidate in international affairs at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. The article was first published in The Hill.

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More Than 1000 Gene Variants Linked to Educational Attainment Identified

However, the total influence of the genetic variants is small, explaining about four per cent of the variation in educational attainment across individuals, the scientists said

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The team analysed a combined 71 datasets comprising over 1.1 million participants with European ancestry from 15 different countries and who were least 30 years old. Pixabay

An international team of scientists has identified nearly 1,300 genetic variants associated with how much education someone may complete.

Educational attainment is primarily influenced by environmental and social factors, but it is also influenced by genes associated with, for example, cognitive function such as memory and personality traits such as conscientiousness.

“We found that many of the genes associated with educational attainment are influential in virtually all stages of brain development and in neural communication within the brain,” said Peter Visscher, Professor at the University of Queensland in Australia.

Genetic variants on the X chromosome explain virtually identical amounts of variation in men and women.

This finding, published in the journal Nature Genetics, lends support to the hypothesis that there are no genetically based sex differences in the amount of variation in educational attainment.

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Genetic variants on the X chromosome explain virtually identical amounts of variation in men and women. Pixabay

However, the total influence of the genetic variants is small, explaining about four per cent of the variation in educational attainment across individuals, the scientists said.

“Even variants with the largest effects predict, on average, only about three more weeks of schooling in those who have those variants compared to those who don’t,” said Daniel Benjamin, Associate Professor at University of Southern California (USC)- Dornsife.

“Yet, when we analyze the combined effects of many genetic variants, taken together they can predict the length of a person’s formal education as well as demographic factors,” he added.

Also Read: New Link Found Between Alcohol, Genes And Heart Failure

While the new number is far more than the 74 variants initially discovered in a smaller study two years ago, there are many other genetic variants associated with educational attainment that have not yet been identified, the researchers said.

For the study, the team analysed a combined 71 datasets comprising over 1.1 million participants with European ancestry from 15 different countries and who were least 30 years old. (IANS)